I went to my friend’s house to borrow a suitcase this evening and ended up staying for a drink because she had some friends round.
I haven’t seen this group for ages and last time we bumped into each other, I still felt different, as if I didn’t fit in. Too young, not enough money, not enough experience of life. Too different.
But tonight we had a really, really nice evening, and I didn’t feel different. It wasn’t that I was different before, I just didn’t know how to feel the same. And now I do.
Anyway, we’ve all known each other since my LDs were 3 and 5. And their children are for the most part a little bit older, just about to leave for University now.
The funny thing about feeling “out of it” is the feeling that everyone else has a perfect life and you are the only one who doesn’t. And it’s only ten years later that you realise that no-one has a perfect life. It’s especially brought home to you when you’re all staring at a Facebook picture of someone else’s daughter, who has clearly got an eating disorder. And another whose daughter is, “everyone knows”, a complete druggie (and it’s pretty obvious from the pics…). And you’re all sitting there with your mouths open going “J F* H C…” because the last time you saw these kids, they were eight and holding their mum’s hand, or playing in a sandpit. These are kids who had everything, loving parents, private education, big houses…
On the plus side, watching children grow up is amazing, because you see them growing into people. My friend’s daughter showed us this spoken poem/animation, “To This Day” by Shane Koyczan
because she has to choreograph a routine for her GCSE dance and she’d like to do this. And I thought that was so amazing. She’s fifteen years old and already has all these creative ideas of what she would like to do to turn this poem into her own thing. Another acquaintance has a daughter who was always so quiet and didn’t quite know what to do with herself, until she realised that she was a singer and is dedicated to that now. Another friend who’s daughter is applying to Central St Martins, because that’s where she’ll most likely be talent spotted by advertising agencies.
It’s funny, watching children grow emotionally, or not grow. None of us could make sense of it. For me, looking at what’s happened to some of our kids reminded me a lot of being at school, where there was a lot of unhappiness, a lot of normalising of eating disorders and self harm. I’m convinced it is something to do with feeling that you belong, or not. Feeling that you are special and that your existence matters, or not. Obviously if I had a complete answer then I’d have solved half the adolescent problems in this country. But I don’t even have part of an answer. I’m just pretty relieved that my kids seem for the most part OK, because it seems that there is not rhyme or reason to this being the case or not.